Project Status

Project Type:  Protected Spring

Regional Program: Western Kenya WaSH Program

Impact: 105 Served

Project Phase:  In Service - Oct 2021

Functionality Status:  Functional

Last Checkup: 07/08/2024

Project Features

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"I have frequently suffered from waterborne related diseases including diarrhea and typhoid," said teenager Lavender, who lives in Bukhakunga Community and depends on Martin Imbusi Spring for water.

Lavender speaks for all 105 people in Bukhakunga when she tells of their illnesses caused by the spring's water. In its unprotected state, all types of contaminants ranging from soil to farm chemicals and animal waste pour into the spring runoff from the rains. Pillows of algae float in the water and grow on the bottom, giving the pool of water a green color. This water is not safe for consumption. Many time, energy, and financial resources are lost to families trying to pay for medication and hospital visits to treat their water-related diseases.

Accessibility is the other main concern at Martin Imbusi Spring. To fetch water, people must scoop the water using small jugs or bowls to then pour into their larger jerrycans; the spring is not deep enough to submerge their containers. But the jugs they dip in carrying any soil and bacteria from their surface, and people's hands directly into the water people are fetching. If too many people try to fetch water at once, too much mud from the bottom gets churned up in the water, forcing people to wait even longer for the water to settle before they can begin fetching again.

The entire water fetching process is time-consuming and frustrating. As people wait in the long lines and crowds, they miss out on other productive work time. Tensions often arise, especially if someone accidentally stirred up mud in the water while fetching it. Neighbors accuse neighbors of negligence and selfishness, leading to a general lack of trust and cooperation within the community.

"The constant conflict among people is quite frustrating, as is the lining up for long periods of time," said Mary Nasonga, a 60-year-old farmer.

What We Can Do:

Spring Protection

Protecting the spring will help provide access to cleaner and safer water and reduce the time people have to spend to fetch it. Construction will keep surface runoff and other contaminants out of the water. With the community’s high involvement in the process, there should be a good sense of responsibility and ownership for the new clean water source.

Fetching water is a task predominantly carried out by women and young girls. Therefore, protecting the spring and offering training and support will help empower the female members of the community by freeing up more of their time and energy to engage and invest in income-generating activities and their education.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

To hold training during the pandemic, we work closely with both community leaders and the local government to approve small groups to attend training. We ask community leaders to invite a select yet representative group of people to attend training, which will then act as ambassadors to the rest of the community to share what they learn. We also communicate our expectations of physical distancing and wearing masks for all who choose to attend.

The training will focus on improved hygiene, health, and sanitation habits in this community. We will also have a dedicated session on COVID-19 symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention best practices.

With the community’s input, we will identify key leverage points to alter their practices at the personal, household, and community levels to affect change. This training will help to ensure participants have the knowledge they need about healthy practices and their importance to make the most of their water point as soon as the water is flowing.

Our team of facilitators will use a variety of methods to train community members. Some of these methods include participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, asset-based community development, group discussions, handouts, and demonstrations at the spring.

One of the most important issues we plan to cover is handling, storing, and treating water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. The community and we strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.

We will then conduct a small series of follow-up training before transitioning to our regularly scheduled support visits throughout the year.

Training will result in the formation of a water user committee, elected by their peers, that will oversee the spring's operations and maintenance. The committee will enforce proper behavior around the spring and delegate tasks that will help preserve the site, such as building a fence and digging proper drainage channels. The fence will keep out destructive animals and unwanted waste, and the drainage will keep the area’s mosquito population at a minimum.

Project Updates

October, 2021: Bukhakunga Community, Martin Imbusi Spring Protection Complete!

Bukhakunga Community now has access to clean water! We transformed Martin Imbusi Spring into a flowing source of water, thanks to your donation. Our team protected the spring and trained the community on improved sanitation and hygiene practices, including COVID-19 prevention.

"Before the installation of the water point, I suffered a lot from waterborne diseases," said Lilian, a 32-year-old farmer. "Now, I will be able to save the money that I have been using to treat waterborne diseases and invest in other activities.

Lilian at the spring.

Children were just as excited as the adults about the new water point.

"Now with access to clean water, [I] am no longer worried [about] waterborne diseases," said 10-year-old Phylis.

Phylis at the spring.

"I can easily go about my day-to-day cleaning activities with no problems," Phylis continued. "Before I would frequently get sick, and that would mean money being spent on me. But now I am assured of clean, safe water."

Preparing for Spring Protection

Community members work together to source and carry all locally available construction materials to the spring. These included bricks, sand, stones, and fencing poles. Some people also chiseled away at large rocks to break them down into gravel. Because people have to carry most items by hand, the materials collection process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

When the community members had prepared everything, we sent a lorry to the community to deliver the rest of the construction materials, including the cement, plastic tarps, and hardware. Then, our artisan and field officers deployed to the spring to begin work. Individual households provided meals throughout each day to sustain the work team.

From Open Source to Protected Spring: A Step-by-Step Process

At last, it was time to dig in at the spring! Locals lent their strength to the artisans each day to help with the manual labor. First, we cleared and excavated the spring area. Next, we dug a drainage channel below the spring and several surface runoff diversion channels above and around the spring. These help to divert environmental contaminants carried by the rains away from the spring.

To ensure community members could still fetch water throughout the construction process, we dug temporary diversion channels from the spring's eye around the construction site. This allowed water to flow without severely disrupting community members' water needs or the construction work.

Excavation created space for setting the spring's foundation, made of thick plastic tarp, wire mesh, concrete, and waterproof cement. After setting the base, we started brickwork to build the headwall, wing walls, and stairs.

Next, we began one of the most crucial spring protection steps to ensure a fully functional water point: setting the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe has to be low enough in the headwall so that the water level inside never rises above the spring's eye, yet high enough to leave eighteen to twenty inches between the pipe and the spring floor. This allows the average jerrycan (a 20-liter container) to sit beneath the pipe without making contact.

If we place the discharge pipe too high above the spring's eye, too much backpressure could force the flow to emerge elsewhere. Too low, and community members would not be able to access the water easily. We embedded the pipe using clay (or mortar when clay is in short supply) and placed it at an incline to ensure water flows in the right direction.

We pitched medium to large stones on both sides of the spring's drainage channel in coordination with brickwork. We then cemented and plastered each stone group into place, forming the rub walls. This helps discourage people and animals from standing in that area, which could cause soil erosion and thus a clogged drainage area.

We then turned to cementing and plastering both sides of the headwall and wing walls. These finishing layers reinforce the brickwork and prevent water in the reservoir from seeping through the walls. In turn, enough pressure builds in the reservoir box to push water out through the discharge pipe.

As the headwall and wing walls were curing, we cemented and plastered the stairs and installed four tiles beneath the discharge pipe. The tiles protect the concrete from the falling water's erosive force while beautifying the spring and facilitating easy cleaning of the spring floor.

We transitioned to the final stages of construction with the tiles in place - backfilling the reservoir box. First, we cleared the collection box of debris that may have fallen in since its construction, such as dead leaves or other items. Then we redirected the temporary diversion channels back into the reservoir box, channeling water into this area for the first time. We closed off all of the other exits to start forcing the water through the discharge pipe only.

With much help from the community, we filled up the reservoir area with the clean and large stones they gathered, arranging them in layers like a well-fitting puzzle.

We covered the rocks with a thick plastic tarp to minimize potential contamination sources from aboveground, followed by a layer of soil. We piled enough dirt on top to create a slight mound to compensate for the backfill's future settlement.

Community members transplanted grass onto the backfilled soil to help prevent erosion.

Finally, the collection area was fenced to discourage any person or animal from walking on it since compaction can disturb the backfill layers and potentially compromise water quality.

The entire construction process took about two weeks of work and patience to allow the cement and plaster to finish curing. As soon as it was ready, people got the okay from our field officers to fetch water.

Training on Health, Hygiene, COVID-19, and More

Due to the ongoing challenges and restrictions amidst the pandemic, we worked with local leaders and the national Ministry of Health to gain approval for a small group training about health, hygiene, and COVID-19 prevention.

Together with the community, we found their preferred date for training while considering other community calendar events, such as the agricultural season and social events. We requested a representative group of community members to attend training to relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.

When the day arrived, facilitators Patience Njeri and Samuel Simidi deployed to the site to lead the event. Seven people attended the training, including six women and one man.

Perhaps the most crucial topic of the day was our session on COVID-19 prevention and control. Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the virus and provide extra information where needed.

We covered several other topics, including community participation in the project; leadership and governance; personal and environmental hygiene; water handling and treatment; operation and maintenance of the spring; dental hygiene; the ten steps of handwashing; and how to make and use a tippy tap and leaky tin. In addition, we held an election for the newly formed water user committee leaders during the leadership and governance session.

"Some of the households had put in place handwashing stations but eventually stopped using [them]," said Josphat, a 61-year-old farmer and the chairman of the new water user committee. "Most people were wearing masks, but not properly. But with the new knowledge, change will happen for the better.

Josphat at the spring.

We also brainstormed income-generating activities that community members can use to start a group savings account for any future minor repairs to the spring and a cooperative lending group to enable members to develop small businesses.

For the members of Bukhakunga community, dental hygiene was the most memorable topic. Most of the members shared experiences of how they suffered from dental cavities and other problems. Most of them also hadn't understood how they should brush their teeth and what type of toothpaste to use.

"This training has been of great benefit to me," Josphat continued. "Though I knew some things, I did not understand the importance of applying [them] in daily living. Now with [this] new set of knowledge and skills, this will make life much easier."

When an issue arises concerning the spring, the water user committee is equipped with the necessary skills to rectify the problem and ensure the water point works appropriately. However, if the issue is beyond their capabilities, they can contact our field officers to assist them. Also, we will continue to offer them unmatchable support as a part of our ongoing monitoring and maintenance program.

Thank you for making all of this possible!

September, 2021: Martin Imbusi Spring Project Underway!

A severe clean water shortage in Bukhakunga Community drains people’s time, energy, and health. Thanks to your generosity, we’re working to install a clean water point and much more.

Get to know this community through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!

Project Photos

Project Type

Springs are water sources that come from deep underground, where the water is filtered through natural layers until it is clean enough to drink. Once the water pushes through the surface of the Earth, however, outside elements like waste and runoff can contaminate the water quickly. We protect spring sources from contamination with a simple waterproof cement structure surrounding layers of clay, stone, and soil. This construction channels the spring’s water through a discharge pipe, making water collection easier, faster, and cleaner. Each spring protection also includes a chlorine dispenser at the waterpoint so community members can be assured that the water they are drinking is entirely safe. Learn more here!

A Year Later: No Waiting and No Illnesses!

December, 2022

A year ago, your generous donation helped Bukhukanga Community in Kenya access clean water – creating a life-changing moment for Even. Thank you!

Keeping The Water Promise

There's an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Bukhakunga Community 8.

This giving community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Bukhakunga Community 8 maintain access to safe, reliable water. Together, they keep The Water Promise.

We’re confident you'll love joining this world-changing group committed to sustainability!

Before we protected the spring in Bukhakunga, people were plagued by water-related illnesses and time-eating queues at their water point.

For kids like 13-year-old Even, the queues were the worst problem, because they made fetching water take up most of their spare time.

"Adults could overtake children like me in the queue, and there was nothing I could do," Even said. "I had to wait until they are done so that I can fetch water. That was tiresome and time-wasting. Now, water is flowing fast from the discharge pipe. This makes me spend little time fetching water because there is no queuing like before."

The chairman of the local water user committee, Josphat, is most excited to see fewer medical expenses for his own family and those of his community members. "The water was exposed to agents of contamination like runoff water and siltation, which resulted in frequent water-related ailments," he said. "[We have] reduced or no spending seeking medications for water-related ailments. This has been as a result of the protection of the water point."

With more time and better health, the community members are improving their own lives, bit by bit.

"I have really improved in my school performance because I no longer waste time queuing for water," Even said. "I study most of the time."

Josphat, our field officer, and Even at the spring.

Navigating through intense dry spells, performing preventative maintenance, conducting quality repairs when needed and continuing to assist community leaders to manage water points are all normal parts of keeping projects sustainable. The Water Promise community supports ongoing sustainability programs that help Bukhakunga Community 8 maintain access to safe, reliable water.

We’d love for you to join this world-changing group committed to sustainability.

The most impactful way to continue your support of Bukhakunga Community 8 – and hundreds of other places just like this – is by joining our community of monthly givers.

Your monthly giving will help provide clean water, every month... keeping The Water Promise.


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